'Life-threatening' Hurricane Florence lashing Carolinas

Jan Cross
September 14, 2018

Hurricane Florence has begun battering it's way through the North Carolina coastline with heavy rain and high winds in what people fear could lead to the deaths of "a lot of people".

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 225 kph earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 1.

And there are reports of another storm in the Pacific, too.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.

The Weather Channel's forecast video shows the potential damage such surges could inflict on the southern states.

The centre of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday.

Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".

"If you find yourself here [in rising floodwaters], you need to get out", she said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned people: "Today the threat becomes a reality".

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In the Carolinas, forecasters said that given the storm's size and a likely sluggish track, the hurricane could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial and farm waste sites. "Well, we're about to get punched in the face".

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".

Yesterday, Dr Greg Postel, the network's hurricane specialist, said three feet (0.9m) of water was enough to knock people off their feet, potentially carry cars away and flood lower levels of buildings.

Members of the Missouri Search and Rescue, part of FEMA, unload their gear at a staging area as Hurricane Florence starts to make landfall in Lealand, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018.

Florence is forecasted to to meander southward through SC after landfall, then it will eventually get caught in the upper level flow and move out of the region.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia - as well as the U.S. capital Washington.

Despite pleas from officials, some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

"It doesn't matter how much money you have or how many generators you have if you can't get gas", she said.

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